As a European and an experienced photographer of animals, Nina Leen (c. 1914-1995) had a sensibility that prompted her to study Americans the way a biologist would an exotic species. “It was typical for Americans not to see what [the American look] was,” she said. “To them it was usual—Isn’t everybody like that? For me, America wasn’t usual.” Her many subjects ranged from the latest fashions to Ozark clans, even as she continued to study animals, including snakes and bats. “I wanted to show bats in pictures because words would just fly off into the air,” she said. “People wouldn’t believe it and could not imagine them.” After seeing pictures of an orphaned puppy on a road next to her slain mother, Leen adopted the spaniel-like mutt. She called her Lucky, and nurtured her to health and fame. An inspiration to stage-mother dog owners everywhere, Leen featured Lucky in LIFE, on TV, in a movie and in the book Lucky, the Famous Foundling.
—Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers